Barr's Irn-Bru - Supporting Scottish Football

Looking At Russia 2018… Too Early?

russia-2018

So as the dust settles on Brazil 2014 and Germany well and truly partied out after their triumph, it’s probably a bit too soon too look forward to Russia 2018. But hey, we football fanatics don’t know the meaning of too soon and it looks like MyTopSportsbooks.com agrees, as they already have odds for the next World Cup online.

The tournament is already on the political agenda with UK’s deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg calling for Russia to be stripped of the right to host the finals in four years time. That is all due to the conflict happening in Ukraine, but as we know FIFA will be stubborn and certainly wont entertain the idea of stripping the Russians at this stage.

Quite a few countries will be looking forward and hoping that they can get their hands on the trophy come July 2018.

The European sides could continue their recent dominance.

Current champions Germany have a great system of bringing through top players just in time for the big competitions. Can they remain hungry for another four years?

France have some excellent youths coming through and a lot of the squad that went to Brazil this summer will be hitting their peak in 2018 like Paul Pogba and Raphael Varane.

Spain still have a superb crop of youngsters that will replace the old guard. The performance from the Spanish this summer was hugely disappointing but they will go to Russia expecting to right a few wrongs.

Brazil could be interesting. The appointment of Dunga as coach isn’t the one they needed to make if they want to go back to their attacking roots. The 7-1 shame may take more than a few World Cups to get over.

Argentina will need to have more stars that can help Lionel Messi, who will be 31 come 2018.

Plus we shall always have that team that starts off as a dark-horse and then excites us as the tournament go on. Like Colombia did at the 2014 World Cup.

So that’s why I am still excited for 2018. Let the twists and turns start already!

Can Saints Bring the Great Wall Forster To Southampton?

Fraser_Forster

For those of us with an interest in Scottish football it’s easy to see why teams on the continent and English Premier League sides would be interested in England international goalkeeper Fraser Forster.

Southampton have been linked with the shot-stopper and have already had a bid turned down for the Northumberland born goalie.

The six foot seven giant has had a very successful time in Scotland breaking numerous clean-sheets records and winning plenty of winners medals. But his domestic performances have been misjudged, as foreign fans laugh off the Scottish game. Many believe that you could put a scarecrow in goals at Parkhead and Celtic would still keep a clean-sheet. But that is just ignorance talking. In many a Scottish domestic game, Forster has done well with fantastic stops and he rarely gets the credit for them that he deserves. Yes he may have plenty of time doing nothing but then when he is called upon, Fraser is there and stands up and usually produces the save.

But what the doubters cannot deny is Fraser Forster’s top-class performances in the Champions League. The Spanish media gave Forster the nickname “La Gran Muralla” (The Great Wall) after his heroics against Barcelona. Whilst Marca stated ‘an amazing performance by Fraser Forster‘. Gianluigi Buffon, the great Italian goalkeeper and the best of his time, said “Anyone who has seen his performances for Celtic knows what an exceptional talent he is.”

His presence in goal with his huge stature is formidable and gives him an early advantage over strikers. Forster is a fine shot-stopper too, with powerful wrists to bat balls away from the goal. He also has speedy reactions and covers his goalmouth well, whether that means getting down low for an effort or clawing one away from the top corner.

Has become a fans favourite in Glasgow’s east end and is a very popular member of both the England and Celtic squads with his down to earth persona.

So you can see why Southampton might be interested. Reportedly so were Barca, Arsenal and Benfica.

But a lot depends on what Celtic and Forster want to do next.

The Glasgow club don’t need to sell and certainly won’t for a fee in the region of £3.5m (the reported first Saints bid). It would take between £8m and £10m, in my opinion, before Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell takes any suitor seriously. Celtic would then be making a nice £6m-£8m profit on a player they plucked from Newcastle Utd’s reserves back in 2010. But don’t forget that Celtic still need to qualify for the group stages of this seasons Champions League, they probably won’t do any business until their European fate is decided.

But again they would only sell Forster on the understanding that he wants to leave.

To be fair, he would probably be open to a move. But only if it was to the right club/league. As an Englishman, the EPL would be an exciting option for him. The keeper would stand a better chance of securing a spot as England’s number two if he was performing well in that particular league. Also coming up against quality strikers every week will be enticing too.

That said, would he relish moving to St Mary’s where we’ve seen so many departures as of late? It could be a long, tough season for the Saints if Ronald Koeman doesn’t bring in adequate replacements for the likes of Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert, Luke Shaw and Dejan Lovren.

So can Southampton bring ‘the Great Wall’ to St Mary’s?

well I suppose the only way Southampton can really find out if Fraser Forster is willing to join their new revolution is by showing more ambition with their transfer strategy and by offering Celtic £8m or more and then waiting for Forster’s response.

Why London Has An Edge Over Manchester For The 2014/15 Title

EPL

With only a month between now and the last day of the transfer window, we have a better idea on how the teams will shape up for the 2014/15 season. While passing time waiting in suspense for the new season to start, many are playing Royal Vegas Canada games to get their betting skills refreshed for the new season. As it stands, I’d have my money going on a London side winning next seasons Premier League title.

Both Arsenal and Chelsea have been impressive so far in the transfer market: buying big, spending quickly and getting players to fill in the positions they needed cover in.

Arsene Wenger’s purchase of Alexis Sanchez, is an inspired signing. The Chilean adds a different dynamic to the Arsenal frontline and he should bring out the best in Mesut Ozil. The signings of Mathieu Debuchy and Colombian keeper David Ospina were needed to bolster the squad and add competition. They may still need a midfield general, unless Abou Diaby finally comes good and stays fit.

Chelsea look a lot stronger. Jose Mourinho will now feel he has his own squad at last. With Didier Drogba re-signing this week, this Chelsea squad have plenty of depth in all positions. If new signings Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa settle in well and Eden Hazard can reach world class level, then for me the ‘Blues’ will be massive favourites for the title. This summer hasn’t all been about buying with Jose also shifting a few, making his squad tight and balanced.

In Manchester both clubs look to have given up momentum to their London rivals.

At Man United they have new boss Louis van Gaal. I’m sure they will see an improvement on last terms seventh placed finish. They should have enough about them for a Champions League place at the end of the next campaign. But I doubt they’ll have enough about them to secure top spot. The summer has been a bit slow for the Old Trafford side in terms of signings. Yes they have brought in two good players for a combined fee of £58.4m but Luke Shaw and Ander Herrera were both David Moyes targets. More experience is needed in the central defence and midfield positions plus more deadwood needs to be shipped out. A season of transition is forecast but still a better one than last.

Over at Man City, they have also been a bit slow in the transfer market. Yes they had the best overall squad last year but they cannot afford to rest on their laurels. They didn’t win the title by much and still need a better partner for Vincent Kompany plus maybe another striker to take the load off of Sergio Aguero and Co. More should be expected of Stevan Jovetic. A lot could depend on leader Yaya Toure and how he comes back after slating the club back in May.

Liverpool can’t be overlooked as they had a very impressive campaign last season. But they have lost the talismanic figure of Luis Suarez and have brought in quite a few new faces that will need to settle in quickly. I seriously think that their best chance to win the EPL was last term and that they may struggle for another top four finish this time around. Missing out on the Sanchez signing was a significant blow in my opinion.

So for me, it looks like it will be between Arsenal and Chelsea for the title next season. If I had to put money on it, then I’d plump for Jose’s men as they have a bit more experience in that side. But watch this space, one or more of their rivals could pull out a surprise or two in the next month and totally shake things up again!

The Case For A New Man United Defence

Man Utd badge

Manchester United have been linked with a lot of creative midfield talent this summer. It is understandable as its been obvious for a few seasons now that the Old Trafford club have been weak in that area.

But surely after the departures of Rio Ferdinand, Patrice Evra, Alexander Buttner, and Nemanja Vidic the defence needs to be strengthened too.

So far Luke Shaw is the only new defensive recruit to come in. That means that at the moment new boss Louis van Gaal only has; Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Rafael, Johnny Evans and Luke Shaw in the squad with decent defensive first team experience. Obviously they will have a few youngsters that may help and fill in some gaps.

For me, Man Utd need to look at bringing in two new centre-backs, one with vast experience. Plus a left-back that will give Shaw competition.

So here are a few candidates that I believe could be linked with a summer transfer to Manchester:

Thomas Vermaelen: The Arsenal captain has vast experience and probably needs a move to restart his career. Has suffered from a few bad injuries in recent years but was one of the EPL’s star turns when he first joined the Gunners. Could be available for £10m and has the bonus of being able to fill in at left-back too.

Mats Hummels: Was probably the best central defender at the World Cup. It doesn’t look like Dortmund want to sell another prize asset this summer, plus would Hummels himself want to leave for a club not currently in the Champions League? Maybe a move next preseason and not this one.

Jan Vertongen: Would be ideal as again he can play on the left as well as centrally. Is experienced in the Premier League and has vast international experience too. Spurs are notoriously hard sellers and would be hard to deal with unless an offer starts with £25m.

Stefan de Vrij: The Dutchman could be available for a cut price fee £7m. Did well for the Dutch at the World Cup and a player that Van Gaal knows well. Would seem like an obvious buy for me, especially considering his solid, dependable displays in Brazil. Also wanted by Lazio.

Virgil van Dijk: The young Celtic defender impressed in last seasons Champions League and has huge potential. But I doubt he will be on United’s radar considering Van Gaal never looked at him for international honours. Could pave the way for a move elsewhere.

John Stones: Man Utd have a rich history of buying the best English young talent. Stones had a great end to the season with Everton looking a natural central defender with superb timing and composure to take the ball out of the defence. Can also play at right-back. Would take a big bid to get him away from Goodison.

Daniel Agger: If Liverpool complete the £20m move for Dejan Lovern, then that might mean that they are ready to offload the Dane Agger. Accomplished in the Premier League and has been heavily linked with moves to Barca in the past. Could be a great fit at Old Trafford, if the two rivals were able to do business with each other.

Daley Blind: This versatile player, is yet another Dutch defender that will be linked with United this summer. Was fantastic in Brazil at getting forward and providing some super assists for Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie. The Ajax man can also play as a defensive mid. Valued at around £17m, could be interesting if he were to come in.

Ricardo Rodriguez: The Wolfsburg twenty-one year old is impressive at going forward as well as defending on the left-hand side. The Swiss international would provide great competition for Shaw and showed last year in the Bundesliga he’s not frightened to get up and score a few goals too.

Gabriel Paletta: The Italian centre half has impressed in Parma in recent seasons and has become one of Italy’s top defenders. Another one who would offer experience at the back, if Parma are willing to sell.

 

Ron Vlaar: Would certainly add experience to the United defensive positions. Was the rock at the back for Van Gaal’s Netherlands side this summer. Would be  available for a cut-price fee at Villa considering his age but has he done enough in EPL for a move to United and would their fans be happy with that move?

Good Luck Glasgow With The Commonwealth Games

Celtic Park

Glasgow showed the world that they can throw a party as they launched the 2014 Commonwealth games in the city.

Here is a fantastic shot of Celtic Park.

The image belongs to HD Warrior.

Picture Blog: Cathkin Park

Cathkin Park 2014

Today I took a jaunt down to Cathkin Park as it’s only a few miles away from my flat. 

I have always been intrigued by the former home of the now extinct Third Lanark AC. It is only a stones throw away from Hampden Park home of Scotland and Queens Park. At its peak the stadium had a 50,000 capacity. 

As the world turns it eyes onto the city of Glasgow for the Commonwealth Games, stadia like Celtic Park, Hampden and Ibrox will take to the spotlight. All the while Cathkin Park continues to house weeds, tress and trash! 

Kids still venture onto the pitch following the footsteps of Third Lanark legends. But alas instead of thousands of cheering fans they may have a few magpies on the ruined terraces. 

Hope you enjoy the pictures and the sense of history, that I always get walking through the park.

 

CP Entrance

Third Lanark

In the light

B&W Cathkin Park

 Oval

Steps

Can

Broken Bud

Kids playing

Memorial

Standing room only

Magpie

Sunny

Monaco Moving For Fernando Torres Shows lack Of Intent

AS_Monaco

 

This time last year AS Monaco had already spent over €100m on new and exciting talent. This summer has seen the Principality club sell the likes of James Rodriguez, Emmanuel Riviere and Eric Abidal.

In return they have still to sign anyone of note.

As time marches on this summer, the Ligue 1 runners up seem to be content with chasing English Premier League (EPL) flops and has-beens. Those names may get the ordinary French fan excited (They love watching the EPL) but players such as Nani and Fernando Torres won’t really cut the mustard in the Champions League or challenge ZLatan and Co in Paris.

The purchase of Dimitar Berbatov was seen as a stop gap in January but after his contract was extended, it looks like that move could be the sign of things to come at the Stade Louis II.

Last year the big deals were done early but now as it approaches the end of July the big names all seem to be heading elsewhere.

If they are to stand any chance of pushing PSG domestically and doing anything of note in Europe, then they’ll need to go all out and attract players like Antoine Griezmann, Angel di Maria, Sami Khedira, Xherdan Shaqiri, Wesley Sneijder, Romelu Lukaku, Mario Balotelli or Freddy Guarin. Those are all players who have been linked with moves away for their clubs this summer.

But ‘Les Rouges et Blancs‘ have quite a few issues to deal with, if they want to bring in top talent.

First off, Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev has to show that he still has the hunger to plough in the cash. After his fight with The Fédération Française de Football (FFF) and his costly divorce the Monaco owner needs to set out his and the clubs ambitions.

The club also have to convince superstars at peak age that moving to Monte Carlo to play in front of crowds of around 10,000 isn’t such a bad thing. That’s why keeping Radamel Falcao could be very important for the whole team. If he were to follow James Rodriguez out of the door, then Monaco would be seen as a sinking ship.

Plus they need to prove to possible recruits that Ligue 1 isn’t just a one team league and that Monaco can do their upmost to wrestle the league title from the grasp of their rivals in the French capital.

Signing a 30 year old striker like Fernando Torres, who has been bang out of form for the past  four years, would be a huge mistake. Especially when you fork out £20m for the pleasure. Either bring in younger stars with potential or players still capable of playing at the highest level in the top competitions.

If they end up with the impotent Spaniard, then I fear that would spell the end of AS Monaco being any sort of force in France nevermind in Europe.

Tick followed tock followed tick followed tock. Now is the time for Monaco to walk the walk or stop all the talk!

Why Barkley Should Stick With The Toffees

Ross_Barkley

Manchester City have been heavily linked with a huge bid for Everton’s gifted youngster Ross Barkley. According to The Guardian, mega-rich City could be willing to pay £50m for the English darling.

Now obviously if that bid materialises it would be tempting for both Everton and Barkley, as that kind of money is life changing.

But if I could advise the player, I would warn him against such a move.

We all know Ross is a very talented player and his stock would have only risen after his World Cup showing, not many in the England squad can say that!

As a footballer, he excites the crowd. He has craft and vision. His ability to control the ball whilst running directly at opponents, shows glimpses of a young Paul Gascoigne. He can score a wonder goal or two.

Basically he has all the tools to go on and succeed at the top level of European football.

But he’s still only twenty, so he isn’t the finished article yet. Staying at Everton for another two years could be key in Barkley reaching his full potential.

Why? 

Well its simple. At Goodison, he’ll get more game time. Look at the current crop of English talent City have at their disposal; Joe Hart, Micah Richards, James Milner, Jack Rodwell and Scott Sinclair. Only Joe Hart is a regular starter, after Hart only Milner managed more than ten league starts last term with the EPL champions. Sinclair went to WBA on loan (did nothing) and between them Rodwell and Richards only managed three starts!

Man City’s England contingent have been wary of the lack of first team exposure for a while now. Adam Johnson departed the Etihad in 2012 complaining about the lack of first team opportunities. Gareth Barry and Joleon Lescott, who were both key members of the championship winning squad in 2011/12, both left on free transfers this summer without much fuss. If press reports are true then Micah Richards and James Milner also want to depart in search of more games elsewhere. Seems quite strange especially considering the Champions League demanding you have a certain amount of home grown players in your pool.

Rodwell is the one Barkley should look at closely. They both made their way into the Everton first team after developing through the Toffees youth ranks. Jack also had terrific potential but his career has stalled at City. Obviously injuries have hampered his time in Manchester but you’re not allowed too much time to learn from your mistakes or a chance to get used to your surroundings at City. If you don’t hit the ground running then the chances are you’ll be dropped and it will take you a long time to get back into the first team. That’s what happens at most elite clubs these days.

That is a lot of pressure for a player who still needs to develop.

Plus at Everton, Roberto Martinez will have his team perfectly set up to help the youngster. He will have Gareth Barry and James McCarthy (should he stay) playing behind Barkley and that will see them giving him the ball and protecting him if needs be.

At City where would he fit in?

They already have Yaya Toure, Fernandinho and David Silva. They’ve also just signed Fernando and still have James Milner and Jack Rodwell. The chat about Toure going looks like that is all it is, chat.

For me, Ross Barkley should hope that no bid comes in. He needs to get into the Everton side and cement himself a regular starting berth. He should be looking to start thirty games plus next term in the Premier League. His target in terms of goals should be to get into double figures. With his vision for a great pass, Barkley should be creating more assists, he didn’t create a single goal last season. At Everton, he will also get a chance to shine in the Europa League which should give him his first taste of European competition.

Then the ultimate goal, in terms of international football, should be getting into the England first team in time for the Euros in 2016.

Once he’s proved himself at Everton and is starting for England, then and only then should he consider leaving Goodison. In the summer of 2016, Ross Barkley will be twenty-two.

There is no need to jump at the first chance at a ‘Top Four’ club and the wages that they can tempt you with. Look at Gareth Bale, he turned down Man Utd and Arsenal for Spurs. He managed to grow as a player at White Hart Lane and has now just won the Champions League with Real Madrid.

So remember Ross, patience really can be a virtue and it can come with the best rewards!

Why Jose Is Bluffing And Chelsea Need Drogba

DidiDrogba

“I have to say my club did a fantastic job, and not just because of what we bought, but because we did it in almost record time. The transfer market closes 31 August and we close our market on July 19. We finished the market today,”

That was Jose Mourinho‘s declaration this weekend. Chelsea‘s transfer business is done with Cesc Fabregas, Diego Costa, Kurt Zouma, Filipe Luis and Mario Pasalic all signing on this summer.

The squad has also been boosted with various talents coming back from loans notably goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and midfield marshall Oriol Romeu.

If anything the squad may need trimmed with players such as John Obi Mikel, Romelu Lukaku and Marko Marin all linked with moves away from Stamford Bridge.

Throughout the squad the ‘Blues’ have great strength in depth in most positions, apart from one in my opinion.

In between the sticks, the battle between Petr Cech and Courtois could be very intriguing as Mourinho has to try and keep both world class keepers happy during the season. Belgian Courtois had an amazing season last term at Atletico Madrid winning La Liga along with Diego Costa and Filipe Luis. He also impressed while representing his country at the World Cup. Due to Cech’s shoulder injury (ironically against Atletico) Courtois should start the campaign as the number one. Chelsea also have an able back-up keeper in Mark Schwarzer ready if needed.

Ashely Cole is now at Roma and Chelsea have replaced their dependable left-back with Filipe Luiz. The Brazilian was a consistent performer during his four year stint in Madrid. He made on average 3.8 tackles per game and his passing accuracy was also above 80%. Ryan Bertrand is back from his impressive loan spell at Villa and could compete with Luis for the left-back spot. That role was right-footed Spaniard Cesar Azpilicueta’s last term but he could now be moved to right-back and fight with Branislav Ivanovic for that jersey.

David Luiz has departed, moving to PSG for £50m. Young Frenchman Kurt Zouma was signed in January but only now arrives in London. The nineteen year old made over twenty appearances for Saint Etienne last season but will probably start this campaign on the bench. He will benefit from just watching the English game close up and observe captain John Terry and Gary Cahill from the sidelines. Obviously Ivanovic can also play as a centre half. Youngster Thomas Kalas has gone on loan to 1.FC Koln in order to gain more experience. That could mean that Nathan Ake and Andreas Christensen could see more first team action in the cups and if injuries occur.

As Chelsea usually play a 4-2-3-1 formation, the two central midfielders are important as they have to keep the ball moving and also have to help the defence. Club legend Frank Lampard has left the Bridge but former Barca and Arsenal man Cesc Fabregas could be an inspired replacement. The Spaniard has won plenty of trophies, got all the tools and has EPL experience. Nemanja Matic returned to Chelsea in January and was one of their star players, expect even more solid performances from the Serb this season. Ramires is a midfielder that runs and runs, he gives his all for the cause. He disappointed along with most of the other hosts in Brazil this summer and Jose will need to console the twenty-seven year back to form. Oriol Romeu impressed during his first season at Chelsea but was loaned out to Valencia last year, he’s back and signed a new deal and could be useful if Chelsea need more strength in the middle to close out games. Injury hampered Marco van Ginkel‘s debut season but much is expected from the Dutch player this season.

The creative three that play behind the frontman is well stocked up. Last season Eden Hazard was sensational for Chelsea and he will now hope to step up and become a world star. Mourinho admires Brazilian Oscar who can split defences with sensational passing and he also works hard getting back. Andre Schurrle had a fantastic World Cup, winning it with Germany, and will hope to cement a place in this Chelsea side. Willian showed once he settled in London he can help change games, that should spur him on to a better things. Mohammed Salah is another one who can only improve with a full pre-season under his belt.

Up-front is where help might be needed.

Obviously Diego Costa will come in and be the main man. The aggressive striker will hope to continue his goalscoring form in England. He will definitely rough up a few defenders and that’ll be fun to watch. It will be interesting to see how defenders try to deal with him and what refs will do if he over steps the mark. The Spanish international should get Chelsea goals and that’s why he’s been brought in. Surely we all know that Fernando Torres will never be a consistent threat at Stamford Bridge. If they could get rid of him, they would have. Clearly Jose doesn’t wan Romelu Lukaku and the Belgian will be sold off, probably to Everton. I also doubt Victor Moses has a long-term future at Chelsea and will probably leave this summer either on loan or permanently. Patrick Bamford could be used as a back-up but the twenty year old forward may be better off going on loan to another EPL side.

Plus lets not forgot that Demba Ba and Samuel Eto’o have both left this summer.

That’s why Chelsea need to bring back Didier Drogba. Yes he is now thirty-six but last season he managed fourteen strikes in all competitions. He is still extremely fit and influential, who is a man for the big occasions. His leadership qualities would be great in helping Diego Costa settle in at the Bridge. I’d imagine after his spells in Turkey and China, the Ivorian could be ready to take a step back at Chelsea and help bring on the new generation.

He’s a player that Mourinho knows well and who would give his all in a Chelsea shirt. With Costa already signed up, they don’t need to go out and splash a huge amount on a new hitman but if they sell Lukaku and Moses they’ll need better back up than just Torres and Bamford. Drogba on a free makes so much sense.

But Jose Mourinho said Chelsea aren’t going to bring in any more new players? True but the Portuguese manager will just spin the signing declaring that Drogba isn’t a new buy, he’s just returning home.

If Chelsea want to challenge on all fronts next term then they still need a proven back-up striker.

SFA Forcing Fans Away From International Football With Expensive Prices

SFA

Last Sunday, Germany won the World Cup and sent their fans into ecstasy. Within a few days the Scottish Football Association (SFA) announced their ticket prices for the up and coming Euro 2016 qualification matches, which includes Germany’s first competitive fixture as the holders of the World Cup.

The ‘Tartan Army‘ had some good news. The season ticket included the friendly against the Auld Enemy (England) in November. So all in, the season ticket will see the fans see six home games against England, Germany, Rep. of Ireland, Gibraltar, Poland and Georgia.

Now here comes the bad news. The SFA have decided to increase ticket prices. The cheapest season ticket will cost £190, with the dearest setting fans back £250. So that will be either £31.66 per game or £41.66 per game.

If you’re not part of the Supporters club (which costs you £55 to join by the way) and wait for the public sale then the qualifying games will set you back £32-£42, yes it will set you back between £32-£42 for a ticket to see Gibraltar (who’ve never played a recognised, competitive international match). For a friendly against the English, who are ranked 20th in the world and who were put out in the group stages of the World Cup, you will have to fork out between £50 and £60.

Now here’s the thing, the SFA are basically fleecing fans just because they have ties against England (which is meaningless) and the World Champions Germany.

Now the SFA may say but this is our first increase in ticket prices since 2010. They may also say that the Irish are charging more and that they aren’t including the tie against the Germans. Blah blah blah!!!

Ok now let me ask a few questions of my own… When was the last time Scotland qualified for a major tournament? Last century (1998 to be exact). How many times have Scotland won at home since the start of 2010? Well in the nine home qualifiers, Scotland won three, lost three and drew three.

Things have picked up since Gordon Strachan took over the Scots hot-seat in January 2013. But the two previous managers offered little to cheer about and their teams produced dismal performances and in all honesty the Scottish national team and association should have been paying the fans to turn up to Hampden during that four year period.

See the SFA want Scottish fans and families to fork out a fortune but on what? We cannot be guaranteed great or even decent performances! Maybe the SFA could work on a performance method. If they have a successful campaign that was at least entertaining then they up the prices for the next round of qualifying fixtures. If they under perform and play dreadful football then they discount the next set of prices.

To be honest why not just look at the opposition and charge accordingly. £35 for Germany, £30 for England, £22 for Rep Ireland & Poland, £20 for Georgia and £15 for Gibraltar. That would then come in at total of £144. If they were feeling really generous then for the season tickets they could offer that for £129 with the Gibraltar game being given for free.

Also lets not forget that they have TV deals to show the home (with Sky, so thats more money for the fans to pay) and away qualifiers, they have a shirt deal with Adidas (which will set you back £52 for an adult strip) plus they have just extended their sponsorship deal with Vauxhall which was originally worth £5m. So the coffers aren’t empty at Hampden. Here is the full list of the SFA’s partners and sponsors.

But the Scottish Football Association thinks short term and likes to milk the fans of their money, without any transparency in where the money goes and why the ordinary punter has to pay so much. It responds with ‘well you can pay more elsewhere’ and ‘we haven’t upped prices in a while’.

According to the Daily Record an SFA spokesman said…

“Fans always throw up the argument that ticket prices in Germany are cheaper.

“That is because Germany has 10 times the TV revenue and a vibrant domestic league that sells out which Scotland don’t have.

“The same thing happened the last time and the Scotland season ticket ended up selling out.”

This statement highlights the complete and utter arrogance that comes with the Scottish football Association. If Scotland gets poor TV deals and the league isn’t vibrant, then the buck stops with the SFA. They deal with the TV companies and for too long ignored the development of youngsters at our grassroots level.

But the main difference between how German and Scottish football is run is that the Germans give their fans a voice and make them the shareholders of the game, so the focus is making it as accessible as possible to the ordinary people. Where as the Scots at Hampden look after themselves, first and foremost. They struggle to think outside the box and often only see the fans as an after thought.

Also its not just German football that works out cheaper. In France last term it would have cost you around £119 for a Lille season ticket. That was for nineteen home games including matches against PSG, Monaco and Marseille. In Spain, outside of the top three, the average price for a season ticket last campaign was between €150 and €200.

In Poland, league runners up Lech Poznań seem to offer a ticket for 436zł (£87) which includes all league games (18/19), Europa League qualifiers, and Home cup games (Thanks to @Ryan_Hubbard). Ryan also told me that you could get a cheap season tickets at KS Cracovia for as little as £18-£20.

Now for the last part of the spokespersons statement. They are right, many of the Scottish footballing public love their national team so much that they will pay £190 or more, to possibly watch substandard football. Many will stick it on to a credit card and go further into the red. Many will need more than one ticket to satisfy family needs. But does that mean they should be taken advantage of?

Are the SFA really wanting to call the customers bluff here? That is horrible customer service. I hope one day, the Tartan Army fans decide to say ‘shove your tickets’ and force the prices down and a change of attitude at the SFA, so they become more customer focused.

I don’t blame any fan for deciding to fork out a couple of hundred quid to watch their team. But I do blame the SFA for not giving the fans a better/fairer deal.

The simple fact is this, the SFA are overcharging for no other reason than they can. The quality of football isn’t guaranteed and hasn’t been for over a decade now. If they cannot come out and respect the fans with a statement that explains their ticketing policy, then the fans should demand changes at Hampden!